Florida House passes congressional map drawn by DeSantis despite protest

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Chaos erupted at the Florida state capitol Thursday as Black state lawmakers staged a sit-in to protest the governor’s congressional map.

They fear the new congressional map will reduce the number of Black Democrats representing the state.

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But the House still passed the bill, along with another bill stripping Walt Disney World of its ability to govern itself. The controversial measures are now going to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

Just before noon, a protester carrying a sign stormed onto the floor of the Florida House to protest the new congressional maps, which would eliminate to Black congressional districts.

Some members left the floor, while others stayed.

READ: Gov. DeSantis vetoes Legislature’s congressional maps, calls special session to redraw districts

State Rep. Geraldine Thompson, a Democrat from Orlando, was one of the members who stayed on the floor to protest, criticizing Republicans for allowing the governor to draw his own map and eliminate Black opportunity districts.

“We are trying to share that with them so they can have that some empathy, but as you can see with this empty chamber, they are still refusing to listen,” Thompson said.

READ: DeSantis, Florida lawmakers sued by groups over congressional maps

The map, drawn by the governor, splits Orlando into three parts and Jacksonville into two.

Congressional District 10, currently held by Congresswoman Val Demings, would see its Black voting population decreased, while two districts in northern Florida would see their black voting populations split in half.

READ: Florida lawmakers strip Disney World of its self-government

After a lengthy delay, members returned, despite protesters still sitting on the state seal in front of the dais.

The governor is expected to sign the new congressional districts into law, although they are already the subject of a federal lawsuit. Meanwhile, the elimination of the Reedy Creek Improvement District is not scheduled to go into effect until June 2023.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.